• My affiliate links won't hurt you, but they might help feed my kids. See my full disclosure policy in the main menu.

This is How Books Remind Me

IMG_20150731_141220558Let me tell you about this book.

A couple of years ago, the school district of my hometown decided to close the doors of my elementary school for good.  If you’ve ever experienced anything like this, you know how surprisingly hard it can hit you.  I was a pretty sad girl when I heard the news.

I grew up in a town an hour away from here, not the rural paradise I live in now.  So when a kindly woman came to my small-town library with boxes and boxes of books to donate from ‘an old elementary school,’ you could have knocked me over with a breath when I saw that the books were from my old alma mater (can you call your elementary school your alma mater?).

IMG_20150731_141242371

Unfortunately for the masses, these books were too old for use in my library.  Fortunately for an avid book collector, they were old enough to be verrrrry interesting.  Myself being the book collector, of course.  So I went through them.  And I found a couple of keepers. The main one being this gorgeous book, The Little Wooden Doll by Margery Williams Bianco.  1) It’s a children’s book.  2) It is about a doll who has been in an attic for a while and is lonely.  Kind of like Pooh Bear or Raggedy Ann, this doll is alive. 3) You can see the threads from the cloth binding if you look back at the pic of the cover.  In. Love. With that.  4) The doll talks to mice and other toys and animals.  5) Happy ending.  6) It’s in Really Good condition.  7) If you look closely at the next pic, you’ll see the copyright is dated 1925.  It’s a little blurry.  But it’s there.

IMG_20150731_141314144

So I did quite the happy dance over this little find.  I brought it home, placed it in my antique books cabinet and admired it there behind the glass for a few weeks.  Then one night all my boys were gone somewhere.  I don’t remember where, which is weird since that happens almost never, but all four of my princes were out of the house.  And since I was treating myself to all kinds of Lit Mama alone time, I took this treasure book out of the cabinet and snuggled in to read it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet, fantastical story.  Then I came to the end.  And you will not believe what I found at the back of the book.

IMG_20150731_141440546Sure, You can’t read my maiden name on the top line of this lending card, but I can.  You can see the K, for sure.  And the F3 at the end?  My teacher’s initial and grade.  So right there, 30 or so years later, was proof that I had read this book in the 3rd grade.  This exact copy of this 1925 edition.  It was an antique when I read it the first time!  I swear, when I saw that card, I lost all my breath.  I couldn’t believe it.  I know my 3rd grade teacher had a name that started with F and I even recognized my own childish handwriting, but I still couldn’t believe it.  Talk about getting goosebumps.  I felt like I was talking to myself across the years.

Do you think some small part of me remembered having read this book when I chose it from the boxes that were donated to the library?  I can tell you this, at no time since have I remembered reading this book when I was young.  But I have the proof.  How bizarre is it that a book I checked out of the school library came back to me 3 decades later and ended up part of my personal library?  I mean, yeah, if I still lived in that town and purposely went to a book sale to find books I had checked out… Well, the circumstances would have had to have been very specific, wouldn’t they?  But by accident?  Really?

Things like that really happen in real life.  Because magic is Everywhere.  Especially when books are involved.

Amazingly enough, you can still buy this book new if you want to enjoy the truly wonderful story.

But it will still be light years away from being as cool as my copy.  🙂

Love wins,

KT

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 9 Squirrels and Rabbits

This post contains affiliate links

This post contains affiliate links

Is there anything cuter than a fuzzy little rabbit nosing about in your clover patch?  Or a squirrel carefully checking out his surroundings before burying a nut under a pile of autumn leaves?  If we think they’re cute, imagine what your littles think.  These adorable rodents give us so many things to teach about: life cycles, mammal diets, winter habits, finding food in spring, saving up for winter.  You could easily combine a study about squirrels with a harvest lesson and have a week’s worth of interesting projects and discussions. Because we associate rabbits with spring (thanks to that whole Easter/Ostara thing) you could do the same with rabbit and planting studies.  But you’re going to want to have some literature to go along with those lessons because why wouldn’t you?  So here are some Lit Mama suggestions that I’m sure you and your littles will love.  There are A Lot of them.  I will try to keep it to 6.  Wish me luck.

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young

Have I ever told you about being very small and going to visit my cousin who belonged to a book club?  For a while she got a new book every couple of weeks.  I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.  We used to spread all those delicious books out on the floor and pick the ones we wanted to read (to be fair, we alternated picks so I had a decent chance of getting at least one of my top picks, and we traded as finished them).  Miss Suzy was one of those books.  It is a wonderful tale about a grey* squirrel who gets run out of her adorable house by a bunch of red squirrels and winters in a dollhouse in the attic of an old house.  There she meets a band of toy soldiers who eventually help her get her tree house back.  What I loved about it as a child was the acorn cups and twig broom and firefly lamps in Miss Suzy’s tree house.  I wanted to have That Kind of House.  I think it will spark your littles’ imaginations just as much.

*I know, I still spell grey with an ‘e’ and no one but the Brits does that anymore.  That’s because I was taught, by a very adamant 2nd grade teacher, that spelling it with an ‘a’ was wrong and would get marked as such on the weekly spelling test.  Her vehemence stuck with me straight through the misspelling on the Crayola Crayon that changed the spelling here in the States.  So color me British.  Grey is spelled with an ‘e.’

 

 

Leo the Lop by Stephen Cosgrove

Leo the Lop is another book I remember well from those visits with my cousin.  I loved the Serendipity Series for Robin James’ amazing illustrations, but this particular story is a wonderful reminder to littles to love themselves for who they are and not try to be someone else.  I have a female lop-eared rabbit now who is called Leo.  Because you can’t have a lop and not name it Leo.  It’s in the rules.

 

 

Morris’s Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells

Poor Morris.  All he wants is to share the Christmas toys with his siblings, but none of them will trade their cool toys for his stuffed bear.  So he spends a disappointing Christmas morning until the disappearing bag changes everything.  This is another childhood favorite of mine, because I loved it when Morris finally got to play with his sister’s makeup and his brother’s hockey gear, but also because I wanted a disappearing bag.  Because that would be cool.  To, you know, just disappear.  Hm.  Sometimes one of those would come in handy even now!

 

The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

Are you kidding me?  Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Squirrel Nutkin… Lots of wonderful and beautifully illustrated stories here about squirrels and rabbits both.  This would be an amazing addition to any library, let alone any unit study.  I still call all the wild rabbits Peter when I catch them in my garden.  Because they are just as wily and persistent as Peter ever dreamed of being.

 

Watership Down by Richard Adams

I can’t resist recommending this book any more than I can stop telling you to read To Kill a Mockingbird.  The wondrous thing about Watership Down is not only is it a great story with an intriguing message, your littles can learn quite a bit about rabbits in the reading.  Mm hmm, Watership Down.  Read it. Several times.

 

 

The Rift of Rime by Steven L. Peck

If your littles enjoy rich fantasy, you can’t go wrong with this awesome squirrel tale.  (See what I did there?)  Pinecone, the hero of the story, is a poet, so that should say enough about it.  But the author is an ecologist and a bioethics teacher and while the story is about warriors it is also about nature, both squirrels’ and humans’.  Very imaginative with an amazing message about war, this book is sure to draw your littles in.

I did it.  Kept it to 6.  But can I just mention that Stephen Cosgrove has a squirrel book in the Serendipity series, too, called Squeakers?  Ok.  I’ll shut up now.

Oh, and that whole spreading the books out on the floor and spending hours trading and reading them together?  I’ve made it a point to make that a habit with all my littles.  In fact, that sounds like a good way to spend a summer afternoon…

Love wins,

KT

Day One: Donkeys          Day Two: Summer          Day Three: Water          Day four: Insects          Day five: Owls

Day Six: Bears                 Day Seven: Winter         Day Eight: Poetry

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 8 Poetry

os55l

Poetry is one of my favorite forms of expression.  So much can be said in so few words.  It is a great tool to teach your littles because it can help them be succinct, it helps them learn to describe, it feeds the imagination.  It’s never too early to introduce your littles to poetry.  There are so many ways to add it into a daily curriculum.  Copywork is a great way to bring poetry in without it being overwhelming.  If your littles are practicing their printing or cursive writing, giving them a poem to copy every day adds even more to the lesson.  Picking a poem to go with the day’s lesson is another way to bring poetry into your day.  Reading a poem aloud every day gets your littles used to hearing the rhythm and meter of different types of poetry.  Following are some suggestions for adding poetry into your homeschool.

 

 One fish two fish red fish blue fish by Dr. Seuss

Or any book by Dr. Seuss.  These books are such a great introduction to rhyme and the bright colors draw littles in to the illustrations.  I remember being so frustrated with Sam-I-Am when I was little.  Why couldn’t he just leave us alone and stop trying to force green eggs and ham on us?  Hmm? Seuss was a genius at rhyme, and most littles adore him without even realizing they are being introduced to poetry.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

This book.  When I was in elementary school, my teacher introduced this book as part of the Scholastic book sale.  She raved about it.  I wanted it sooooo bad.  I didn’t get it until after Big was born when I bought it for him.  I spent a decade buying a copy for every new baby born to my friends and family.  Because every child should read this wonderful, hilarious, world-changing book of poetry.  Poetry written specifically for kids?  Silverstein was my hero. He can be the hero of your littles, too.

The New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky

Prelutsky is another humorous poet just for kids.  Between him and Silverstein, you can find poems about darn near anything.  Monsters under the bed, bullies, alligators, you name it.  The thing about Prelutsky is he makes poetry seem cool.  It’s funny and entertaining.  It will give your littles a good place to jump off from when you decide to dig deeper.

 

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

When you do decide to go deeper, Stevenson’s sweet collection is a good start.  Written more in the style of the classic poets, these poems are still written for children about childlike things.  This collection, too, gives you access to a number of subjects and can be used to find poetry to go along with your daily lessons.  It’s a better introduction to adult poetry, especially if you’re looking at reading the classics.

 

Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

Milne’s collection of poems for and about Christopher Robin are another good springboard for more mature poetry.  Your littles may at first feel disappointed that there aren’t a lot of Pooh references in the poems, but teach the poems for what they are and the kiddos will appreciate them.  Milne’s sly sense of humor is still here, and there are plenty of images to enjoy.  And I don’t mean illustrations.  Milne was a genius.  But you know that.

 

 

Dean’s Mother Goose Book of Rhymes by Janet and Anne Graham Johnstone

If you can get your hands on this one (and you can through that link. For cheap.), do so.  This was my all-time favorite book as a child.  In fact, my original copy is still hidden in the depths of my mother’s basement.  She can’t find it.  So I ordered me a new one last year.  Not even so much so my kids could enjoy it.  Just for me.  Because the illustrations are the most magical I’ve ever seen.  And the poems included are more varied than one generally finds in a Mother Goose collection.  My wallpaper on my laptop is a page out of this book.  I have stared at it, flipped its pages from front to back, and lost myself in it for enough hours to equate years.  I bet your littles will, too.  And maybe, just maybe, they’ll grow up loving poetry.

And that would be cool.

Love wins,

KT

Day One: Donkeys       Day Two: Summer         Day Three: Water        Day Four: Insects

Day Five: Owls            Day Six: Bears              Day Seven: Winter

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 7 Winter

omvcxIt’s sweltering outside.  But at least it’s not raining, right?  Nevertheless, I’m doing that weird human thing where in the midst of the season I was praying for in January I am looking forward to the cool-off.  Why can’t we just be happy with what we have?  Well, I don’t know.  Sometimes it’s too hot and sometimes it’s too cold and sometimes it’s too wet and sometimes it’s too dry… We don’t live on a perfect planet.  And that’s okay.  Because it gives us something to look forward to.  In honor of that, today’s book recommendations are going to be good additions to a winter study.  The season, ice, snow, snowflakes, hibernation and other animal habits–all of those things make great science studies.  So how about a little literature to go along with it?

 

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

My favorite thing about winter is the very first snowfall.  I don’t care if it happens in the daytime or the dark of night, I always go for a walk in it and listen to the hush of it, the silence of the earth as it welcomes the flakes, the stillness that happens at no other time, ever.  I always take these walks by myself.  Later, after the snow has really accumulated, that’s the time for Littles.  The Snowy Day is about that littles’ time.   It’s about a little boy’s day in the snow, and the wonder he encounters in a totally transformed city.  You’ve probably read it.  Read it again.  It’s a great celebration of the winter season.

 

The Mitten by Jan Brett

I’m totally smitten with The Mitten.   (Like how I did that?)  This story is not only a good winter tale, it’s a wonderful reminder to share and be good to others. As all the animals pile one after another into a single mitten, your little will giggle and wonder how they all fit.  And when a sneeze tumbles them all out into the snow, you’re sure to get an outright laugh.  Brett’s wonderful illustrations are heartwarming, helping to keep the chill off of this wintry tale.

 

A Bird in Winter by Stepanie Girel and Helene Kerillis

This book combines two of my favorite things–Literature and great art.  It’s based on Pieter Breugel’s painting The Hunters in the Snow.  The premise is that of a young girl who nurses an injured bird back to health.  It is also a good introduction to the Renaissance and to Breugel’s artwork.  If you don’t know Breugel, he was a Renaissance painter from the Netherlands who was known for his landscapes, especially peasant scenes.  I have long been fascinated with his work because it is so simple and true.  The book contains a reproduction of the original, a picture of which I’m posting below.  Because it’s amazing.

hunters in the snow

Frost (Book 1 of the Frost Chronicles) by Kate Avery Ellison

Frost is the first book in a superb YA series set in a world that is entirely immersed in winter.  Monsters lurk in the wintry woods, and Lia, the protagonist, has to discover their secrets in order to protect her younger sister and her crippled brother.  When her sister discovers a fascinating stranger who needs their help, Lia is forced to go against everything she has ever been taught to keep them all out of danger.  Listen, there are 5 books in this series, and every single one of them is worth the read.  Each book has its own twists and turns and the overall story is well-planned.  Full of action, romance, and mystery, I think it will suck in any teen you gift it to.  Oh, and it’s about winter.

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Well.  I had to include Dickens.  You’re not really surprised, are you?  (And The Shining by Stephen King .might not really be appropriate here.)  I know, I know, there are about 10 million films out there based on it, including a Muppet version, and you’ve seen them all.  It. Is. Not. The. Same.  Even the Littles agreed that reading it exceeded watching it on film a million times over.  Since it is set at Christmastime, every scene is in winter. And it’s Dickens.  So you can’t beat it.  Read it.

 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Set in Russia, Tolstoy’s epic novel of love gone wrong (and right) is a long read, but well worth it.  It’s at the top of my list of all-time faves because of its close look at Russian classes and life and the numerous story lines that tie together and unravel so beguilingly.  Believe me, in the end Anna isn’t even the star of the story, though she is, perhaps, the most tragic part.

Even if you’re just craving a cool-off right now, all of these books are excellent for bringing winter into your mind so that you can almost feel it.

Now if you can excuse me, I’m going to go get in the pool. And pretend I’m a polar bear.  In the Arctic.

Love wins,

KT

Day One: Donkeys             Day Two: Summer            Day Three: Water

Day Four: Insects              Day Five: Owls                 Day Six: Bears